Insulating for Moisture Control

Prevent Moisture in Your Home
If you have issues with mold and mildew, whether it’s in the basement, attic, crawl spaces or other areas, you’ll want to make sure you have a good moisture control plan in place.

Understanding Moisture
Before you can address a problem, you have to understand the ways in which moisture—or water vapor—comes in and out of your house. It moves in and out through three ways—air currents, diffusion through materials, and by heat transfer.

Usually air moves from high- to low-pressure areas by taking the easiest way possible—through a hole or crack in your house. This is why it’s always a good idea, especially after winter, to check for any new cracks on the exterior—and interior—of your home. Air sealing any potential paths for the movement of air is one of the most effective strategies for controlling moisture. The type of insulation you have is also critical to managing proper moisture control.

Controlling Moisture
You’ll need to come up with strategies to prevent the intrusion of moisture in your home. Your strategy must first take into consideration what climate you live in, as well as the construction of your home. Is it a new construction? Or is it older and possibly has leaks that have gone undetected? In addition, you should also look at how well your home is ventilated. Do you have a fan in the bathroom?

If you notice a musty smell in any part of your home, this is an indicator that you have a moisture problem. If you notice dark patches on the ceilings and walls that indicate mold, you’ll want to come up with a plan right away, as this can be dangerous to your health.

Temperature and Moisture: A Recipe for Disaster
As air gets warmer, its ability to hold water vapor increases. The dew point is the temperature at which water vapor begins to condense. When air reaches the dew point, moisture that can’t be held in the air condenses on the first cold surface available. If the surface is inside an exterior wall cavity, you’ll get wet insulation.

Proper insulation is critical to controlling moisture because the right insulation can control temperature, as well as moisture content. Insulation decreases the flow of heat, so it affects the temperature across the building where it’s installed. You can have vapor barriers or vapor diffusion retarders installed to reduce the transfer of moisture as well. These vapor diffusion retarders reduce condensation on your walls, ceilings and floors.

Basement Moisture
Basements are notoriously difficult for keeping away moisture. There is often a musty smell, among other indicators. To help control this, you need to correct existing moisture problems not only inside your home, but at the foundation. How is water managed around the foundation? It’s best to call on qualified contractors. But here are some quick tips:

• Install specially designed gutters and downspouts that are connected to a drainage system, diverting rainwater away from the house.
• Install a gasket under the sill plate to provide air sealing.
• Make sure the earth slopes away from all sides of the house for at least a minimum of five feet. Consult with a building contractor to ensure that rainwater is directed away from the house.
• Add ice-dam protection material, or a protective membrane, between the foundation and sill plate.
The bottom line: If you have a moisture control plan in place, this will also improve the results of your insulation and air sealing efforts.

Still have questions about your home or project that you would like some help with? Contact us today!

Superior Insealators is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor.

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